Turkey’s currency took a break from its enduring slide on Monday, after some hints from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Washington and Ankara could smooth over one area of contention this week.
Pompeo indicated, speaking on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly gathering in New York, that he would have a chance to talk with Turkish counterparts on the issue of US citizens detained by Turkey, with a focus on one individual, pastor Andrew Brunson, who is facing coup-plotting and terrorism charges.
“Yes, he could be released this month,” Pompeo said in response to a question on whether he would be meeting Turkish officials this week.
Pompeo did not specify as to whether Ankara had already signaled it was ready to acquiesce to US demands that Brunson be released without any reciprocal action. Turkey has demanded that the US extradite opposition leader Fethullah Gulen, who is blamed for a 2017 coup attempt. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reportedly stipulated that Washington would have to hand over Gulen in exchange for Brunson.
“We’ve talked to the Turks, they know the expectation,” Pompeo stressed. “Pastor Brunson and the other US citizens being held by Turkey all need to be released … and that needs to be done immediately.
“I’m sure there will be some conversations this week in furtherance of that, but make no mistake there will be nothing that we share with them here that we haven’t shared with them already about President [Donald] Trump’s demand,” he added.
The lira rose as much as nearly 4% after Pompeo’s comments. The unit has lost around 40% of its value versus the US dollar this year, hit by Erdogan’s insistence on lowering interest rates as well as deteriorating ties with Washington.